Bird Rock Council hopes to shut down Open House signs

Illegal “Open House” signs in the public right-of-way continue to plague Bird Rock residents, and members of the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) are seeking creative solutions to deter the practice. The topic was broached at the BRCC meeting Feb. 6 at Bird Rock Elementary School.

Council secretary Barbara Dunbar opened the discussion. “One of the biggest complaints we hear deals with the illegal Realtor Open House signage in the right-of-ways,” she said. “That includes sidewalks, streets, driveways, curbs, medians, etc. This continues to be a problem and we’ve asked the City to help.

“In the past, we’ve been told it’s a Code Compliance issue and (an advertising practice) that is against the Municipal Code. We would like to get a Code Compliance officer to come out on a weekend to look at everything and cite any and every violator. We have some Realtors who are chronically bad about this.”

Pessimistic that a Code Compliance officer would come out on a weekend, some board members suggested a proxy, ideally a trusted and credible City official who could view and document the situation. Mauricio Medina, field representative for City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, said he would work with Code Compliance to see if a proxy system is acceptable or what could be done instead.

Noting that the signs are also present during the week, some hoped a Code Compliance officer could come out during normal business hours.

BRCC vice-president and local Realtor Ron Fineman observed: “In La Jolla, it seems people do open houses any day of the week, whereas in most places, it’s only on weekends.” Fineman also said he would see what impact he could have internally among the real-estate business community.

Alternatively, some asked about reaching out to the offending agencies directly, but one resident said when she did so, she was threatened.

“If agencies are going to do business here, they need to know the rules,” Dunbar opined. “In the Maintenance Assessment District areas, we are required to remove the signs. We have been laying them down and taping copies of the applicable Municipal Code section (that prohibits the signs) on them. We have a few Realtors who don’t seem to realize what they’re doing is against the Municipal Code.”

San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 14, Article 2, Division 12 states: It is unlawful “to place, post, paint or secure any sign, pennant, flag, banner, balloon, or similar attention-seeking device on public property or within the public right-of-way unless otherwise provided in the Municipal Code or specific state statute.”

Further, Dunbar said: “There is also the issue that Realtors are not supposed to have flags or balloons. That is another issue we’ve been aware of for some time. It really upsets a lot of the neighbors. The City considers it a safety issue, in that the flags could block drivers’ views. If an accident ensues, the Realtor is liable.”

The issue is expected to be re-addressed at a future meeting.

In other BRCC news:

Bandera access: After eight years of closure due to periodic construction, the Bandera Street View Access will be reopened with post-and-chain fencing and stanchions. Without citing a specific date, Medina said he predicts it would be open by mid-February and joked, “before the end of the Olympics.”

He encouraged residents to follow the progress and let Council member Bry’s office know if that time lapses without the project being completed. The access was closed by two, six-foot chain-link fences to accommodate two construction projects, and was not re-opened.

Overlook maintenance: Dunbar reported: “We have issues with several of our overlooks because there are questions about who is maintaining them — is it the Department of Park & Rec, or is it the Streets Division? There is confusion here and we’ve had people suggest these be turned into mini-parks so Park & Rec would definitely be responsible for them. Hopefully, that would help with the clean-up, so members of the community don’t have to go down and clean the overlooks themselves.”

Art bench installed: A new “art bench,” created by mosaic talent Jane Wheeler, was recently placed at the foot of Bird Rock Avenue. BRCC is collecting donations for more benches along La Jolla Boulevard. “There have been requests from the community for more street seats, as long as they don’t interfere with normal passageway along the sidewalks. We need some funding for this,” Dunbar said, noting a donation form can be found in the BRCC newsletter, online at birdrockcc.org

Bird Rock Community Council next meets 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, tentatively at Bird Rock Elementary, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave. birdrockcc.org

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